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Archbishop of Wales calls on Russian Church to seek end to ‘inexcusable’ war

29 April 2022

ALAMY

A woman looks at paintings she brought into the basement bunker of a school in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where residents continue to live to avoid daily shelling and rocket attacks on the district, on Monday

A woman looks at paintings she brought into the basement bunker of a school in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where residents continue to live to avoid daily...

THE Church forfeits its privilege and departs from its calling when it fails to speak out against injustice, the Archbishop of Wales, the Most Revd Andrew John, told a meeting of the Province’s Governing Body on Wednesday.

In his presidential address, he described “the unprovoked attack on the sovereignty of another country” as utterly deplorable, and the cost and that misery that it was bringing to millions as “without excuse”. Echoing the former Archbishop of Canterbury (and of Wales) Lord Williams, he called on the Russian Orthodox Church to condemn the killing of civilians, and to press for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the war in Ukraine.

“When the Church does not practise peace-making, when it does not defend the poor, when it fails to speak out against injustice, it has no right to say anything about the gospel,” he said. “We need to hear this message ourselves, as well as to say it to sisters and brothers elsewhere in the world.”

Archbishop John did not minimise the challenges faced by the Church, especially the strength of secularism. He warned: “There is no longer a steady stream of those who become the Church in Wales simply because that is what happened in previous generations.”

Consequently, in what he described as “an act of faith and courage” on the Trustees’ part, the balance of resource expenditure was now to be “tilted decisively towards the present generation. . . The three-year cycle of block grant agreements will no longer be the way assistance will be delivered.”

Church buildings presented a further challenge: “What can be an asset in one ministry area is a dead weight around the neck in another. But one thing is clear: we do not want simply to offload buildings so they become a drain on the national finances of the Church, which they become if held centrally rather than locally.

“We need a strategy which aims to manage the buildings we have, investing in those we need and finding good purposes for those we do not. This will need to engage the Church nationally.”

The Bench of Bishops had been criticised in the recent Monmouth review for paying lip-service to “anything which invites or requires provincial co-operation at the expense of diocesan priorities”. He welcomed its recommendation of more comprehensive terms of reference.

But, he warned, “Vision which has no place to land either dissipates into the ether, or, worse, crashes and causes more harm than good. No one is interested in moving chairs around on the deck.”

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